It wasn't really any use, being gay, thought Harry.

If Seamus was attracted to Lavender, it was plausible that they should gossip about it late in bed, and poke fun at him for liking a girl, and he would flirt with her. It was possible, see, for Seamus to date Lavender. Lavender could like Seamus back, and everything would work out. What was completely ridiculous was for Harry to be attracted to Ron.

Harry would never chat softly in the library with Ginny and hear her giggling because Harry had a crush. He would never try to get Ron's attention in any way more significant than asking for a quick game of Quidditch before dinner. Ron didn't think of Harry like that, so that wasn't any point.

He'd heard Hermione talk about Krum; how she felt about him, what she'd want to do with him. This kind of personal talk wasn't something Harry was good at. He'd had no practice growing up, and when he got old enough to be experiencing strange butterfly feelings when a certain someone was near him, the identity of the certain someone was nothing he felt comfortable admitting to anyone, much less Ron, his best friend.

To make matters worse, he was a boy. When two girls walk down the corridor holding hands, no one cares, and when one girl turns to fix another's hair, they're being feminine. They can snuggle in front of the fire on a Friday night in the common room and still just be friends. But when boys do that, they're faggots.

Harry wasn't stupid. He'd realized this. He'd conditioned his mind to do its best to ignore any thoughts he might have about boys that could never be acted on. If Dean asked him if he had any love interests, he'd act nonchalant and redirect the conversation. When he thought about this, it made him miserable because it just wasn't fair that he shouldn't be able to ask Ron on a date, but there was simply nothing else to do.

Harry was strong. He'd faced Voldemort on several occasions and managed to scrape away intact. He'd survived an attack of hundreds of giant spiders, the Triwizard Tournament and his O.W.Ls in fifth year. But keeping this secret was particularly difficult.

After his initial revelation, life had gone on without too much fuss. He'd done his homework, he'd gotten to class on time, and he'd made it to Quidditch practice. As time went on, his suppressed emotions didn't seem to be leaving him alone as he'd hoped they would. One day in History of Magic, Ron had fallen asleep with his head on the desk next to Harry's arm. He'd shifted in his unconscious state until his head was resting on Harry's arm, soft red hair tickling fair skin. Harry allowed his eyes to examine Ron's face. He didn't get to see his friend this vulnerable and this close very often. Ron's mouth was slightly open, and his lips were a little bit chapped. Freckles dotted him everywhere. His eyelashes fluttered every now and then as though he was having a good dream.

Ron was so deeply asleep that he didn't hear the bell when it rang or the frenzy of students to leave the classroom and get to lunch. Harry had lightly brushed Ron's cheek with his hand, and Ron opened his eyes and smiled up at him.

Harry had almost fainted.

It was then that Harry had started to consider his situation more seriously. He really wanted to be able to touch Ron. The way girls could touch each other and still be undeniably heterosexual. The way Ron had smiled at him after History of Magic class was encouraging. Surely he wouldn't be closed-minded to the idea.

After some grueling thought, preparation and fretting, Harry decided he'd give it a try. After a Saturday evening study session in the library, they retired to Gryffindor tower, and Ron complained that his writing hand was sore. Harry sat down next to him on a sofa and took the mentioned hand from Ron's lap and gently but firmly rubbed it. His fingertips loosened the tense muscle there. He isolated each finger and massaged carefully.

Ron melted. He let out an audible moan of appreciation and sunk into the deep cushions, pillowing his head against Harry's shoulder. For the second time in about a week, Harry very nearly fainted on his best friend's account.

Other Gryffindors gathered around and they shared one of the typical Saturday evening social times. They spoke about everything from politics to the new sort of pudding at dinner to the new Nimbus the Hufflepuff Keeper got two days ago in the mail. Harry and Ron usually participated, but that night, they were entirely too lost in each other to present any appearance of logical thought.

Hermione, who notices just about everything, noticed that way Harry and Ron were sitting closely together and how dreamy Harry's eyes seemed and how relaxed Ron was. When he crowd started petering out off to bed, Hermione winked at Harry before ascending the stairway to her dormitory.

They boys went upstairs and changed into their pajamas. Harry was mentally reliving what was, to date, the most wonderful night he'd ever had when Ron arrived at his bedside and asked him if he'd be able to keep doing that.

Harry's arms were sore, but there was absolutely no way he was going to tell Ron that no, he didn't think he could keep up the massage. So he scooted over and made some room in his four-poster. Ron climbed in without any hesitation, pulling some covers over himself and settling on his stomach. Harry lay on his side, one hand gently moving over Ron's back. Ron sighed and closed his eyes, a pleasant smile on his lips.

It wasn't long before Harry found himself becoming irritated at the way the fabric of Ron's pajamas kept bunching up under his fingers. He slipped his hands under the shirt and ghosted his palm across Ron's bare back.

Ron let out a small gasp and Harry felt him shiver. This either made Harry feel brave or insane, or maybe there isn't even a difference. Either way, he leaned down and placed a soft kiss on the side of Ron's neck.

Harry had recovered his right mind by the time Ron registered what had happened. He started to shift and Harry panicked, worried that what he'd done was going to far.

But Ron didn't storm off to to his own bed. He rolled over and placed an arm around Harry's waist and slipped one of is legs through both of Harry's and rested their foreheads together. After a deep sigh, he said, "You're wonderful," so softly that Harry thought perhaps he'd imagined it. This almost confused him more than what Ron meant by cuddling up to him.

Was this within the parameters of their friendship? Midnight cuddles? Was Ron's brain addled by the comfort the massage and backrub had brought to him or was he too sleepy to notice who he was under the blankets with? Harry's mind buzzed and clicked so fast that he thought the mechanical work in his head would certainly disturb Ron.

He carefully reached one arm across Ron and tucked his other arm under his head, letting their bodies lie very close together. Ron sighed again and said in that same almost-imagined voice, "That's better."

It was difficult for Harry to fall asleep because he was so enjoying the feeling of Ron so close to him in his bed. He must have eventually fallen asleep, because the next thing he was aware of was lying on his back with Ron's lower body covering his legs, arms hanging off the mattress.

He gently shook Ron, who coughed and rubbed his eyes. "Sorry, mate. I sleep a little crazy."

"I know," Harry replied, reaching to the bedside table for his glasses.

"You are an expert snuggler, you know." Ron stretched and pulled himself upright to sit with his legs curled under his body.

Harry pushed the frames onto his face and didn't meet Ron's eyes. "Yeah?"

Ron rocked slightly and grinned widely. "You kissed me, do you remember?"

"I remember," Harry mumbled.

Ron laughed and leaned forward to clasp Harry in the middle. "Harry, Harry, Harry."

Harry was surprised. He sat still and stroked Ron's hair.

"I've never been kissed by someone I really loved before."

Harry froze. What did that mean?

As Ron took Harry by the hand and pulled him off the bed and toward the showers, Harry decided that it must be up to him to find out.


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